Following the massive top score of 22 from Roger Taylor this week, the ugly rumours of dirty brown envelopes and insider dealings are once again rife in the seedy world of the Predictorship elite.
Yes. Its that time of year again when the Predictorship Country show takes over the fields of Church Langley, and all is definitely not coming up roses.
Thereâ€™s a stench of foul play in the vegetable tent as rumours bubble around the Chairmanâ€™s fine beetroot display. â€˜Nepotism. Thatâ€™s what it is,â€™ whispers Dave Breeze to Ted Warland who sit 8th and 7th in the table with a very creditable 11 and 13 points this week, as they queue up to weigh in their Maris Pipers.
â€˜Look at them all,â€™ Dave continues, allowing a little spit to land on the judges blouse. â€˜Two Taylors and three Roberts in the top 6. You canâ€™t tell me thatâ€™s a coincidenceâ€™.
â€˜Yes, and look at their hair!â€™ hisses Ted, nodding in agreement. â€˜Chlorine in the swimming pool? I donâ€™t think so!â€™
Irritated at the chattering behind him, Dave Taylor snatches up his prize-winning root (2nd place with 14 points) and turns to fix the culprits with a dark gaze. Silence engulfs the tent as Dave stretches a blood red smile at the two pretenders. â€˜Your time will come,â€™ sneers Dave, â€˜but Iâ€™ll be waiting for youâ€™.
Ted and Dave edge towards the exit, only to be blocked by Joe Roberts â€“ this weekâ€™s 6th place with a 13 point haul and still to play his joker â€“ who steps out from the shadows at the back of the tent. â€˜Riddle me this boys, what is it that no man wants to have but no man wants to lose?â€™ Joe steps across the door, arms folded as they shrink back into the tent. â€˜Thatâ€™ll be a law suit!â€™ crows Joe menacingly, â€˜which is what youâ€™ll have if you donâ€™t stop your sorry little rumours!â€™
Ted and Dave lunge past him to freedom sending Steven Dunlop flying as he heads towards the home produce tent with his freshly baked Pasteis de Nata.
But thereâ€™s nothing that will dampen Stevenâ€™s enthusiasm today as he scrapes the custard out if the grass and back into their fluffy cases:
â€˜What a week it was!â€™ quips Steve cheerfully. â€˜8-1 victory for Benfica (their biggest in 15 years) and 12 points for me securing second place in the Predictorship, it’s been many a moon since I scaled such dizzy heights!â€™
And with another 12 points this week to send him soaring into the joker pack in third place, he drags the crest-fallen heroes off to sample his Portuguese delights.
The homemade tent is evidently the hot ticket as Predictors from all over the globe arrive to see who will win the pastry prize.
Mark Young, shifts nervously from foot to foot behind his small trestle, eyeing his steak and kidney pie beatifically and tugging his flat cap over his eyes as stat-man Matt White examines his crust.
Itâ€™s going to be a close run contest with hot contenders pulling in 9 correct results this week: Joe Roberts (who only failed to predict the result of the Argentina-Brazil game), Nicola Savage (Denmark-Portugal) & Pete Yoder (Poland-Northern Ireland) and all of whom have an extremely impressive array of puff-pastry treats on offer.
The standards have never been higher, with an average score this week of 9.02 (a new Predictorship record), 13 players who have recorded double-figure total scores this week and an astounding 32 players who have recorded double-figure scores so far this season (that’s an average of 8 a week!) weâ€™re looking at some large egos and big prizes up for grabs.
So if you fancy displaying your vegetables and pastries, youâ€™d better start pulling out those jokers. And with only 4 played so far, the fieldâ€™s never been so wide open.